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Humans are the only animal barred publicly from letting it all hang out

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Why do so many people freak about public human nudity, about letting it all hang out, when nobody freaks out that all other animals walk around nude? The human lack of fur does not answer the question, because I can spot a male elephont from far away from its obvious male sex organs or lack thereof. Is it because those freaking out believe that only humans’ knowledge is advanced enough to be ashamed of wearing their birthday suits in public? Is it because people are conditioned into believing their so-called "privates" are reserved for private spots, except to be able to barely cover their genitals, buttocks and breasts on the beach?

In any event, Puritanism continues to run through too much of American society, including from those who fear that publicly bared women’s breasts — but not those of a man worthy of a mansiere or bro — will somehow spell the end of Western civilization or increased promiscuity.

With that backdrop, one way in which our hard-earned tax dollars are wasted is through police trolling for those seeking quick, anonymous sex in public places. Wretch or not at the mental image of such activities — contrasted against people taking the time to get to know each other, to consider sexually transmitted diseases, and to go behind closed doors for sexual activity — but we do not need to be squandering such resources on luring adults into such activity and then arresting them.

A recent opinion from the Fourth Circuit overturns a public obscenity conviction where the defendant accepted the advances of an undercover park police officer posing as a gay man who lured the defendant to sexually hook up. With no exposed genitals, let alone no exposed underwear, the Fourth Circuit found that the obscenity regulation involved in the prosecution was unconstitutionally vague in this instance — although apparently not necessarily unconstitutionally vague if publicly exposed genitals were involved. U.S. v. Lanning, 723 F.3d 476 (4th Cir. 2013). Lanning goes out of its way to say that the Supreme Court’s Miller obscenity test focuses on expressive activity rather than mere display of the unclothed body. It is time, of course, for lawmakers and judges to know that the very act of stripping off one’s clothes can very much be an expressive activity.

Lanning was apprehended in a police sting focusing on gay men. We should not be squantering our resources on such stings of mainly harmless activity.